Friday, 24 February 2012

Called to the bar of the House

There's been a bit of a kerfuffle this week after the Labour MP for Falkirk, Eric Joyce, allegedly headbutted a Tory MP in a bar at the House of Commons.  Joyce has been arrested and charged with common assault and will appear before magistrates next month (as the incident took place in the Palace of Westminster, I'm not sure why he can't invoke parliamentary privilege and insist on trial by the House of Commons sitting as the High Court of Parliament and, if convicted, imprisonment in the Clock Tower cell reserved for MP's).

Others have rightly pointed out the hypocrisy of MP's who speak in Commons debates about cheap alcohol, extended opening hours and binge drinking before repairing to one of Parliament's ever open bars to drink heavily subsidised beer late into the night.  But unlike those who think MP's should pay more for their beer and have last orders called on them, I think we should level up, reducing the price of beer by cutting, or ideally abolishing, the tax and duty on it and allowing pubs to set their opening hours (as they could before the so-called Liberal Lloyd George introduced restricted hours in World War I). Any problems could then be dealt with by local licensing authorities. And it might also be an idea for other workplaces to introduce subsidised bars for their staff.


  1. Pubs couldn't set their own hours before WW I. There had been mandatory closing times for decades. Beerhouses had to shut at 10 P.M. in the 1830's.

    Admittedly, the opening hours allowed were much longer: 16.5 hours in London on weekdays. Though there were more restrictions on Sundays.

    Lloyd George just restricted the hours much more.

  2. Thanks for the correction Ron. See you on Tuesday in the capital of the North.